Recently I came across a statement that the words “ecology” and “economy” both derive from the Greek word “oikos”, which means household. That kind of took me aback, because whenever I read about business or listen to an economist, the message is usually to externalize inconvenient costs such as resource depletion, pollution, carbon footprint…that sort of thing. By externalizing these costs, the bottom line gets to look appealing. We are such an intelligent species this sort of short-sightedness always amazes me.
Anyway, here we are coming up on a fresh new year and this seems like a good time to renew our efforts to get our dual households in order-ecology and economy, get them working hand-in-hand. I believe there are elegant solutions to our energy needs, for instance, that can deliver jobs, national security, and clean sustainable power. All we need is the will to develop and implement them. That is only one aspect, of course.
On Atoms of Thought’s wonderful blog he recently shared some haunting pictures of a ghost town. Beautiful buildings built with an eye to the future. Sadly, it was a future that did not come for that town. Still, the people made the decision to try. To design a town, to build beautiful buildings. I find this inspiring. I think we can build grace and quality into our towns. Maybe measure things a little less by the bottom line, a little more by how the things we build affect the earth, our ultimate household. If we keep things in balance, keep willing to adjust when new information comes in, our towns will have lots of tomorrows.
As for me, I’ll be happy if I can remember to bring my reusable totes to the grocery store!! Being the change you wish to see in the world can be a tall order but I expect that, decision by decision, we can keep our household healthy and vital.
“I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in contact with the new-made fields and plants of Eden; but I do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in ‘creation’s dawn.’ The morning stars still sing together, and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful every day.” -John Muir
I just read an email from my brother, who lives in Washington. He sent me a slideshow from a hunting trip he took with a group on horseback. Pictures of grizzlies, elk, mountain peaks, pack mules… the images swam together in my head getting mixed up with images from books I’ve read about life in the wild west. How cool is it that that life is still possible, and being lived by one’s own brother?! Yet, I confess to a stab of jealousy… wildlife in the suburbs of Chicago just isn’t the same thing.
Then I came across the above quote and came to my senses. Snow fell last night, leaving a magical carpet. So, I grabbed my camera and ran outside…
My room has become an art gallery by accident. Over time, “This is my favorite I can’t sell it ever!” paintings have landed in here, liberally seasoned with masterpieces from my kids. Now grown, sadly, and not as likely to paint, sculpt, decorate…. but that is ok.
One day I was gazing around and was surprised to notice no two of my paintings really resembled each other. UH-OH! You are SUPPOSED to create a unified body of art. What have I been doing? A horse here, a woodland there, an abstract over there (that one was really fun to do). I even dragged my daughter in here to get her thoughts. We hashed it over, what her favorites were and why. This was invaluable because she matched my Etsy store stats perfectly, without meaning to.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking this over for awhile now and I have realized what the thread is: joy. This isn’t a popular thing to talk about in the Art Establishment. But then again, I’ve never been a real member anyway. So, This is what I have to share with you- whatever you do, find what brings you joy.
I’ll be pursuing a more coherent body of work, going forward. And now I know what the guiding light will be: that which makes my heart skip around. That which lets me feel like I’m in conversation with my Creator. I suspect the particular voice will sort itself out with time.
May your day be filled with joy, and may your pursuits fill you with contentment.
I just read a wonderful book by Carl Safina: “View From Lazy Point”. In it he celebrates the watery world outside his window (lucky man) and discusses the changes he sees. He has a very poetical way of expressing himself. You may not always be happy when you’re reading what he has to say, but you will be enlightened and, in the end, inspired by hope.
One of the themes that emerges throughout the book is compassion, and how as we evolve, our circle of compassion widens. This is to our benefit as well as the world’s.
As I read the book I was reminded of the ways I am selfish and short-sighted. He’s good at pithy one-liners: “…as a species capable of looking ahead, we should.” For the moment, my little gas-guzzling Bug isn’t any dirtier than an electric car that gets plugged into a coal plant. But I look forward to the day when a car could get energized by a wind turbine, or a solar panel. I will be glad to say goodbye to oil. In fact, I dream of a day when our country is fueled cleanly, renewably. Think how peaceful a world could be if dwindling supplies of oil and coal could be just left where they are, unneeded? Safina takes a gentle poke at us when he says that we are like the last people in the Stone Age stockpiling rocks.
It’s hard to leave only footprints, but I believe there is a middle ground between that extreme and the race to consume that the world seems currently bent on. I’d like to think we can leave something on the table for the other inhabitants of this glorious planet, and for our children’s children as well.